The Green Minimalist: 19 Powerful Tips To Live Sustainable
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Green minimalists focus on protecting the environment by living simple and cutting down their waste output. They strive to live with a smaller footprint, and living sustainably and in harmony with their environment is their highest priority.
That’s why they fill their homes with environmentally friendly products. They live simply and frugaland try to use their belongings as long as they can before replacing them. They try to repair and repurpose their belongings. By having less consumption they help reduce the harmful impact of mindless consumerism on our planet. They see minimalism as a pro-environment and anti-consumption mindset.
Not owning a car and shopping second hand or eco-friendly and quality products that last longer help them reduce their carbon footprint. They shop mindfully and make sure that they don’t bring any unnecessary things into their lives that cause harm to the earth.
This type of minimalism is also called eco-friendly minimalism.
IN THIS POST:
Is minimalism really good for the environment?
Is green minimalism the solution for our worlds biggest environmental problems?
19 powerful tips on how to become a green minimalist
1. Take responsibility
2. Say no to unneeded stuff
3. Declutter and avoid duplicates
4. Use things fully before replacing them
5. Find a new home for your old stuff
6. Choose experiences over things
7. Downsize to live with a smaller environmental footprint
8. Live nearby your workplace
9. Walk or ride a bike instead of driving a car
10. Reduce your plastic waste
11. Eat less animal products
12. Buy high-quality products
13. Buy second-hand
14. Repurpose things
15. Buy local and seasonal products to support local businesses
16. Be mindful with producing kids
17. Travel smarter
18. Spend more time in nature
19. Show others what you have learned
IS MINIMALISM REALLY GOOD FOR THE ENVIRONMENT?
The minimalistic lifestyle is the exact opposite of the present-day consumer-driven lifestyle. Our modern society tells us that more in every thinkable way is better. The more, the merrier, right?
However, most of us don’t question the downsides of consumerism. They are trapped in the vicious circle of buying and trashing. The most logic disadvantages are:
The exploitation of our limited natural resources
The negative impact of industries on the air
And of course, the waste that we produce when replacing old stuff, not to mention the packaging waste.
That said, what would be the most obvious move to diminish all these consequences, and avoiding buying unneeded things that end up unused and cluttering up our homes?
When you think differently about consuming, everything makes sense. It becomes a win-win situation for all parties. We live a healthier life with a lot less stress, a lot more time, and a lot more money to spend on experiences and truly important things. Plus, we help protect animals and preserve the environment.
So is being a minimalist good? The answer is definitely YES. A minimalistic life is indeed better for the environment.
I will dive into the tactics a lot deeper in a bit. But first, let us take a closer look at the most severe issues our planet is facing today as a result of over-consumption and carless human behaviors.
IS GREEN MINIMALISM THE SOLUTION FOR OUR BIGGEST ENVIRONMENTAL PROBLEMS?
Along my minimalist journey, I became more and more aware of how much we humans contribute to the environmental problems.
Air pollution and climate change
I have also learned that there are tons of simple solutions we all could and should apply to reduce our negative impact on the planet.
True, as an individual changing our habits won’t make a big difference, but if we all knew about these solutions and put them into action one tiny step at a time, together we could ease mother earth’s struggle.
Remember that nobody is perfect, and it takes time and effort to make changes in your life. But as with many things, it starts with a simple decision.
So I came up with 20 powerful tips to live more green and minimal, and therefore more sustainable.
You don’t need to follow all of them, and you can decide for yourself what can be used in your daily life immediately.
I find most of them easy to follow, and I apply to my life as good as I can as well.
19 POWERFUL TIPS ON HOW TO BECOME A GREEN MINIMALIST
1. TAKE RESPONSIBILITY
Let’s be honest here. All your actions are based on your own decisions. Therefore you should not blame others for being where you stand today. The same applies to your mindset about consumerism and your daily habits. Only you can control both for your life.
Only you can take action and stop buying more stuff and polluting the planet as though there were unlimited natural resources. Because there aren't. We carelessly consume our resources, causing the ecological Earth Overshoot Day to get earlier every year.
So take action. Go ahead and try living responsible, and practice minimalism. Inform yourself about how things are produced, their quality, and where they end up when you throw them away.
That knowledge will help you take responsibility and make the right moves. You’ll lighten the load on your living space and on the planet.
2. SAY NO TO UNNEEDED STUFF
Let’s say NO to unneeded stuff. There is absolutely no point in accumulating things that we don’t need just for the sake of having them. They don’t add value to our lives, take up our time, money, and space for nothing.
An enormous amount of things that we accumulate and think may need sometime never get used or get used only a few times before ending up in the storage room for good.
The green minimalist lifestyle helps us understand how to realize our needs and why to keep our wants few. It has tons of positive impacts on our wellbeing, such as less stress, more energy, time, space, and freedom.
The basic formula goes like this: buying + trashing = more trash
Before buying new items, always question if you really need them. After some time, saying no becomes easy, and being in control feels stunning.
3. DECLUTTER AND AVOID DUPLICATES
What to do with things that you already own or have multiple duplicates of that you don’t need anymore? Believe it or not, there is something such as having enough things.
So how to get rid of too much stuff? The solution is to learn how to live with less. And the way to do it is decluttering and saying goodbye to superfluous duplicates.
Ask yourself: do I need 20 pairs of shoes, 50 t-shirts, 30 different bags, 100s or maybe 1000s of pens and kitchen utensils? Do you need all the stuff that has created dust instead of value over the years? Most probably, no.
I often get asked:
How do you become a minimalist?
Or how many things should a minimalist own?
I can give you tips on how to become a minimalist, but I can’t tell you how much you should own. Just make it a habit to possess the right amount of everything you need. Declutter the rest and free yourself time, space, and energy. Once you experience that kind of freedom, you won’t go back to your old consumer habits.
Decluttering is key to understanding what you really need to be happy.
How to do it right? You’ll see in point 5.
4. USE THINGS FULLY BEFORE REPLACING THEM
It might be tempting to upgrade something new because you can, but if the product you want to replace is still useful, don’t just get rid of it. Instead, use it until it doesn’t serve its purpose any longer.
For example, you can wear your old jacket until it tears apart. And even then, you can flick it together to save it from the bin. Or wear your shoes until the sole gets thin instead of buying new shows every year.
Look around your home and appreciate your belongings. They don’t deserve to be replaced because you get bored. That’s the reason to be mindful of accumulating new things. Buying things that you will absolutely love for a long time will motivate you to use it as long as possible. Ther is no need for a new iPhone or fashion clothes every year.
Items that need to be replaced regularly, like toothpaste or other beauty items, should be used all up before buying new. The same applies to food and drinks. Eat and drink everything up before rushing to the market to restock. Try not to waste anything.
Consider everything you let into your life as valuable. Make sure the item you’re about to bring home is something you really love, and that you’ll be happy to use for years to come. This is a smart way of changing your buying habit and slowing down the consumer culture.
5. FIND A NEW HOME FOR YOUR OLD STUFF
It is so easy to simply trash stuff you don’t want anymore instead of discarding thoughtfully. But the real responsible and more eco-friendly move would be donating or selling those to new owners.
Advertise your items on eBay, Facebook marketplace, or other resell sites, ask your friends if they or someone they know might be happy to get your stuff.
Donate your stuff to charities, nonprofit organizations, and animal shelters. They depend on your generosity and will highly appreciate your generosity.
Let’s cultivate the reusing and repurposing habit to stop spreading new things around that make their way to overloaded landfills or in the ocean too soon.
6. CHOOSE EXPERIENCES OVER THINGS
Once my stepbrother told me: where there is beauty, there is also destruction.
Everything that we produce arises from the limited resources mother earth provides us with. Using them wisely is key to sustaining our planet.
Sadly, our consumer-driven mindset and habits do exactly the opposite. Our greed for more uses resources faster than we should, leading to deforestation, air pollution, and climate change.
So why not choose experiences for your birthday and Christmas, or when you want to treat others instead of receiving and buying pointless gifts?
Play secret Santa on Christmas to buy and receive just one gift. Christmas has sadly devolved into a gift-giving cult, and its true meaning is secondary. And that creates tons and tons of waste every year. So do black Friday sales and other mindless buying promotions.
Treat yourself and others with beautiful, meaningful, and memorable experiences instead. Avoid buying material gifts. Embrace the simple pleasures that bring you joy, and you will find yourself being more content and happy.
7. DOWNSIZE TO LIVE WITH A SMALLER ENVIRONMENTAL FOOTPRINT
One tricky fact about having a large home with lots of space is that you feel the urge to fill that space with stuff. Even if you don’t need it, you think: what a waste if I left that room empty, so let me think of something to bring it life.
Why move there in the first place? Just for the sake of having more space? If yes, then leave those areas empty. Enjoy your space. Space is luxury!
But if you end up accumulating stuff just because you got too much space, then it’s time to downsize and live with a smaller footprint. Smaller space means less place to store, forcing you to intentionally choose what to buy to avoid ending up with messy clutter.
Choose to live in a simple apartment, that makes the feeling of the space a lot bigger. That doesn't mean that it would look lifeless. You just need to be more creative to make everything work, but I see that as the fun part of decorating your home!
Enhance the feeling of space by keeping a minimalist apartment and buying light furniture.
8. LIVE NEARBY YOUR WORKPLACE
Two years ago, I saw some billboards advertising that new apartments are soon to arise just two blocks from my office. The idea of not having to commute to work kept me busy until I decided to give living next to my work a try.
I was not sure if it was the smartest move, and even my colleagues told me that it was too near, and I would soon regret it. However, now I can’t even express how glad I am that I did it anyway.
This may be a more ambitious change to do, but I can say from experience that living near the workplace can be a total game-changer. For me, this has proven to be pure luxury.
I no longer have to wake up earlier, rush through the town, and commute to get to work. In my lunch break, I can always go home and have my lunch and coffee there. In fact, I can go home every time I find a 10-minute break and feel great.
After I’m done, especially when it gets late, it feels great to just walk home and open my fridge within 3 minutes. Moving nearby gives me back at least 1 hour every day! 1 hour that I can spend longer with my family and friends, or exercising, or whatever comes into my mind.
Additionally, I don’t need any public transport tickets or any other vehicle to get me to work. And that saves me a ton of money that I can again use for things I love. I love my frugal life!
Can you imagine how thankful I am for that time and time again? Try it, and I’m sure you’ll love it too!
9. WALK OR RIDE A BIKE INSTEAD OF DRIVING A CAR
I have to admit that I own a van. I bought it for my photo booth rental business in 2018, and it serves as a camper van during our holidays. Apart from that, it stays in the parking lot, and I walk and ride my bike whenever I can.
As I said, nobody is perfect, and I was thinking of replacing it with an electronic car once their production and batteries get more efficient, assuming that I still run that business.
But for now, I think that using mine as little as possible is a fair solution and a remarkable difference to the amount of greenhouse gases and air pollutants that I used to emit when I was commuting to my day job.
Alternatively, you can use public transportation to go to farther places when you live in a city with good infrastructure.
Getting back to walking or biking, this is definitely one of the best ways to reduce your carbon footprint and live more ecologically. There are also numerous health benefits, physically and mentally, doing both.
Choose walking and cycling to save the environment, your money, and your health!
10. REDUCE YOUR PLASTIC WASTE
After seeing much plastic trash scattered around the globe during our world trip, I knew I had to change my plastic usage.
Sipping water out of a plastic bottle or a pina colada out of a straw might be a pleasure, but you’ll think differently when you discover how long it takes for them to completely degrade, and you see what damage they do to land and water.
But those were only 2 examples of endless plastic products that are being produced and wasted every second. There are plastic bags, packaging for nearly everything, toys, disposable diapers, clothes, just to name a few.
They surround us day in and day out, and if we don’t reduce our plastic waste, we will ultimately drown in them.
It’s obvious, the population continues rising rapidly, and more plastic is being used. Alternative products are expensive because the percentage of the ones using them is still small. That’s why we need to take responsibility, avoid plastic, and be role models for others.
A big plus by practicing a green minimalist lifestyle is using less plastic comes naturally by buying less stuff. And as we don’t like throwing things away, we try to keep plastic waste as low as possible.
One day using disposable plastic goods will be seen as a no-go around the globe, at least I hope. And we can all help to make that day arrive earlier.
11. EAT LESS ANIMAL PRODUCTS
More and more of us are slowly getting aware of the negative impact of the meat and dairy industry to our climate. Animal agriculture, especially the cattle industry, is with about 15% of all human emissions (production plus land-use emissions), one of the largest contributors to climate change.
Meaning that one simple and easy way to live greener is to eat less and reduce the demand for animal products. I’m not forcing you to go vegan or vegetarian, but I’m suggesting you at least reduce your weekly intake.
If you live in a place where you have enough alternatives to meat, such as vegetables, fruits, bread, rice, nuts, beans, and legumes, you can skip meat a day or two per week, right?
Learn how to cook more plant-based. You’ll discover delicious alternatives to your traditional meals. And simply start adding less meat, especially red meat, into your shopping cart.
12. BUY HIGH-QUALITY PRODUCTS
If you want your stuff to last long, it would be smart to prefer buying high-quality items. Yes, they are more expensive, but if you do the math, you’ll realize that it will be cheaper in the long run.
Because they will less likely get worn out or damaged sooner than what you get in the fast-fashion shops. And I’m not only talking about clothes. This applies to your furniture, kitchen utensils, electronic devices, and so on, you get the picture.
When it comes to buying new items, do your research. Take your time and avoid rushing into the next store and buy 10 low-quality shirts. Instead, invest in 2 or 3 of higher quality, and you will love them longer.
The saying quality over quantity perfectly fits the green minimalist approach.
13. BUY SECOND-HAND
When it comes to buying new items, do your research, and think differently. As you found a way to give your old stuff a new home, you can use the same method for your material possessions. You don’t necessarily have to buy anything new.
You can find almost everything second hand. I try to buy almost everything second hand, except for stuff that I find really needs to be purchased new for sanitary and safety reasons such as underwear, bed mattresses, or a toothbrush.
But bikes, cars, electronic devices, and clothes for all ages, especially for toddlers that are still in good condition, can still be used for years to come.
By that, I don’t only repurpose used goods and save them from landing in the landfill straight away, but I also save a ton of money.
I encourage you to make buying second hand a habit. You will be surprised what you can find online or in second-hand shops!
14. REPURPOSE THINGS
Things that have served their time can still be repurposed. For example, a few years ago, we built a wooden folding bed for our camper van and didn’t know what to do with it after our travels. After some thinking, I came up with the idea of using it on our balcony as a lounge area instead of buying a new set of outdoor seats.
I try to think about how to repurpose my stuff before even trying to sell or donate them. Old jeans can be cut and used as shorts in the summer and t-shirts as cleaning cloths. I've seen friends turning their old bottles into pendant lamps, books into shelves, and even bike wheels into clocks.
You can really get creative here and again keep away your stuff simply landing in the trash.
15. BUY LOCAL AND SEASONAL PRODUCTS TO SUPPORT LOCAL BUSINESSES
While nowadays we have the luxury of getting any food and goods from around the globe at almost any time, choosing them from local producers whenever you can is much more eco-friendly.
Try to get locally produced veggies and fruits and support your local farmers. You’ll most probably get better quality food for a lower price, and you can reduce your carbon footprint immensely.
The same goes for other products. You can get nearly everything on big online retailers such as Amazon within a few clicks and get the products delivered at your doorstep a few days later. But ecologically, that way of buying is a disaster for the environment.
Try to find local stores that produce the same goods. They might be a bit costlier, but it feels good to support your community.
16. BE MINDFUL WITH PRODUCING KIDS
The world population has nearly reached the 8 billion mark. Its growth is pressuring our essential natural resources such as water. In the last century alone, we have almost 5xd our population density from 1.6 to 7.8 billion.
The largest growth is seen in third world countries that lack education and where women are mostly not in control of their own reproduction, such as the African countries and parts of Asia.
Now you might think, what on earth has that to do with me? Remember, we live on the same planet, so we are all in this together.
We are lucky enough to get an education about pregnancy protection. And being aware of overpopulation, we should know that producing 5 kids is not going to help the situation.
Now please don’t get me wrong! Nobody is telling you how many kids to produce. I’m just pointing out that there is such a thing as enough kids, and taking responsibility in this matter is surely a wise thing to do.
17. TRAVEL SMARTER
As I mentioned, we own a van that we use to travel around. We made the decision to fly less and reduce our carbon emission by doing so. Again, still not optimal, but we are not perfect but trying to improve on any other way to help preserve the environment.
However, there are countless options on how to travel smarter than flying and traveling by car. Use the train, bus, or even your bike to move around.
The further you travel, the more you harm the planet. Think of going to nearby places. It doesn’t always have to be on the other side of the planet.
I understand the avid travelers for shaking your heads. I did that too, and if that’s your thing to do, go do it. But make sure to contribute to live greener by following the other methods mentioned here.
As I said, nobody is perfect. Yet, we should all find ways to slow down earth from burning out.
18. SPEND MORE TIME IN NATURE
And this brings me to my favorite way of living greener. To understand and appreciate our natural resources, the best thing to do is to spend more time in nature.
Once there, you’ll realize what wonders our planet has to offer, which gives us the ability to connect with our natural surroundings. If you see a tree, you understand that you can cut it down with machines, but it would take decades for it to grow again.
Seeing the ocean, you understand how much diversity of animals inhabits our waters, and you’ll get the sense of preserving them.
Observing animals in the wild, you’ll get reminded that they just want to live and be loved just as we do, and rethink your diet.
Climbing a mountain and seeing glaciers will open your eyes and show you that our resources are limited and to be treated with care.
That’s why I love to spend a few hours outdoors every day. Just to feel human and connected again.
19. SHOW OTHERS WHAT YOU HAVE LEARNED
Last but not least, you should not be selfish and keep what you’ve learned for yourself. Education is key to better understanding, and living greener is something that everybody should strive for.
Go and spread your ideas!
But don’t only tell, as stories are soon forgotten. Show others how to do it right. Not in a pointy but in a constructive way. Tell them about it, show it and give them time to try for themselves. As you know, there are rarely overnight solutions, especially when it comes to living simply and living more eco-friendly.
I want to thank you for sticking around till the end! Now you know some simple methods to make a big difference, at least for you as an individual. You can now rearrange priorities and put your intentions to work.
I discovered that starting with honesty is the best. I always ask where do I stand right now and where do I want to go. As for becoming a green minimalist, I needed to be honest with myself first before actually moving to the next step.
So take your time, ask questions, and give yourself honest replies. Do you really want to support this abundant but unsustainable life, or do you want to live intentionally and go to bed with a good feeling?
Remember that you don’t have to do it perfectly. All you need is to start somewhere and try to make the world better with every tiny step. Also, small changes bring a noticeable impact.
Let’s enjoy life to the fullest, but with responsibility.